Saturday, 7 November 2009

Adapting Joseph Morschauser’s Rules for Modern Wargames – Some additional thoughts

Just as I was dozing off to sleep last night it struck me that Morschauser’s rules do not include two Basic Units that I would have expected – Mortars and Antitank Guns.

When I woke up this morning I re-read the chapter in his book about his ‘Modern’ period rules … and realised that he does not mention either type of Basic Unit. I have, therefore, added them to my draft of his rules. I hope that I have kept to his basic design philosophy; play-testing (and the comments of other wargamers) will decide if I have got it wrong or not!

Basic Unit Type: Mortar
  • Move: 3 grid squares
  • Melee Power: 2
  • Weapon Range: 5 grid squares
Basic Unit Type: Antitank Gun
  • Move: 2 grid squares
  • Melee Power: 1
  • Weapon Range: 8 grid squares
f) All weapons except mortars and howitzers fire in a straight line-of-sight. Mortars and howitzers can fire over Basic Units, trees, hills, etc., and hit Basic Units behind these things.

The stats for the Mortar are based on those for the Machine Gun, but with the Howitzer’s ability to fire over other Basic Units etc. The stats for the Antitank Gun are a combination of those for the Field Gun (Move and Melee Power) and Tank (Weapon Range).

PS. Ross Macfarlane (of With MacDuff on The Web and Gathering of the Hosts fame) has suggested that Pillboxes be treated as immobile Armoured Scout Cars. This seems to be an excellent suggestion – especially as Ross is far more knowledgeable about Morschauser's rules than I am.


  1. Bob, I think you are confusing my willingness to express an opinion with my knowledge of the subject :)
    I may I have played a dozen unmodified Morschauser games in all periods combined.

    I've pondered the howitzer/field gun thing as well. Given the short range of the howitzer and the liklihood that his units were based as much on what toy soldiers were available as anything else, I have decided that what he calls howitzers are actually mortars not 25 pdrs. The field guns threw me a bit since few modern armies use direct fire guns apart from anti-tank guns so I decided these are actually dual purpose anti-tank guns, 76mm, 88's or 122's or field guns being fired over open sights. I treat light anti-tank guns as anti-tank rocket units since the 2 serve the same purpose and the former tend to have been replaced by the latter. That leaves me without any off board heavy artillery (or airpower), something which I would expect to see controlled by an observer but I haven't gotten as far as framing a rule.

  2. Ross Mac,

    Playing one game using Morschauser's rules is having a lot more experience than me at the present; a dozen games makes you an expert in comparison!

    Your thoughts about why he differentiated between Field Guns and Field Howitzers makes sense, as do your comments about light antitank guns. For the time being I will stick to the rules as written, but with the addition of Infantry Mortars and Antitank Guns.

    Like you, I will leave adding heavy artillery and airpower to another day!

    All the best,


  3. I got a chance to play the next scenario today
    My hurridly scratch built pillboxes didn't help much, one was taken out by an rpg before it could fire and the other was flanked. n retrospect, I think the sand bag bunkers should have been treated the same, can only be taken out by arty or AT weapons.

    As I was deploying troops I realized that there was no role for my officers, there is one in the optional section but my book is at home in the country so I skipped it. Used my mortar as a howitzer as usual. Felt odd playing almost to the last man but I assume stands removed are not all dead and it was that kind of last ditch scenario anyway. I could definitly see playing this on a square or hex grid.

  4. Ross Mac,

    I look forward to reading your report; it sounds like it was quite a battle!

    The only reference that I can remember to officers is under the roster section of Morschauser's book.

    (A short pause whilst I go and get the book from my bookshelves)

    Having looked at Morschauser's book, under the 'Musket' period section of the chapter about the roster system, the Command Section of the Unit is marked on the roster of Infantry and Cavalry (but not Artillery) with a cross. It cannot fire but can melee. There is not reference to officers anywhere else as far as I can see.

    As an aside, on re-reading the chapter about the roster system, it strikes me that Tim Gow and I ‘reinvented’ something similar when we began work on the MEGABLITZ rules system. That has a hidden strength marker for each unit; in the case of MEGABLITZ this is fixed to each unit’s base/’tray’ by a small magnet rather than being represented by circles and crosses on a piece of paper. The result is, however, very similar.

    Another example of modern wargames designers going round in a circle to arrive back at an earlier starting point!

    All the best,


  5. The bit I'm thinking of wasn't actually unit commanders it was for the general who had to stay within some set distance with his loss forcing a morale check. Then to avoid every body jumping on the general, he suggested you add extra adc's etc (or in my case 'company commanders'. Interesting view of the commander as liability!


  6. Ross Mac,

    I know the section you are referring to. It is in the chapter about ‘Your Own Rules’.

    Personally I like to represent an army’s ‘commander’ on the battlefield, and often refer to it in my rules as being the player’s alter ego on the tabletop.

    It is certainly something to think about if I continue to develop Morschauser’s rules beyond the basic ones that are included in the chapters about ‘Musket’ or ‘Modern’ period rules.

    All the best,



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